eCommerce business in South Africa, How to Get Going – Part 1: The Platform

 

Starting an eCommerce business in South Africa – Part 1 The Platform

So you’ve got a product or service and you want to sell it online. But you don’t know where to begin. Fear not, we are here to help! To simplify things, we’re going to give you five of the most popular eCommerce platforms out there to build your online store. They all have their own features, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you. Let’s get straight into it:

 

Shopify

Shopify

One of the most popular eCommerce platforms in the world and arguably the gold standard in eCommerce solutions. There are around 275,000 active Shopify stores worldwide with more than $2.7 billion in sales. Their focus is on making eCommerce better for everyone so that you can focus on building your business and selling products.

Good news for us here in SA, Shopify have partnered with the guys at uAfrica to provide a solution that is tailored just for our market.

What they offer

Choose from over 100 free or paid customisable responsive templates with a built-in shopping cart. The website and cart are hosted with Shopify and they have various packages available to suit your needs. The integrated content management system provides you with all the tools to manage your eCommerce store and there are tonnes of plugins for various business needs. And with uAfrica and PayFast you can pay and receive funds in South African Rands.

Features

  • Super-fast setup
  • Range of free responsive templates
  • Secure hosting
  • Clean easy-to-use interface
  • All the necessary features to run a successful eCommerce business
  • Shopify app store
  • No transaction fees (If you use uAfrica)
  • Simple integration with the PayFast plugin
  • Great customer support
  • Point of Sale products also available
  • uAfrica Shipping (if you use uAfrica)

Examples

15

uafrica_logo

What is uAfrica?

uAfrica.com is a technology company providing cloud based eCommerce services to SMEs across Africa.

They provide an eCommerce Platform that acts as a centralised inventory and order management system that allows retailers to list their products in one central place and have those products automatically synchronised across multiple sales channels. Such as Shopify and Bid or Buy.

In 2016 uAfrica released uAfrica Shipping which allows users to have access to a multitude of couriers at their fingertips. The service integrates with SA courier’s APIs to bring you an efficient and smooth shipping service. You can get various quotes from different couriers based on your parcel’s weight and dimensions, track your deliveries, and request collections online. Head over to the uAfrica website to find out more.

Get Shopify

Find out more about the PayFast plugin for Shopify here.

 WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is undoubtedly the most prevalent eCommerce platform around, with over 9 million downloads, it drives an estimated 30% of all online stores. WooCommerce is built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress and is an option for avid WordPress fans or businesses already using the platform.

What they offer

A free open source eCommerce plugin for WordPress. With WooCommerce you get a light weight eCommerce solution that is easy to use and perfect for setting up a basic store if you already have a WordPress website.

Features

  • Goes hand in hand with WordPress
  • Free to download
  • Full control & ownership of your content and store (no lock-in)
  • Customisable and expandable
  • Wide variety of themes available
  • Support is readily available
  • Accept payment in Rands with our PayFast plugin

Examples

 

Subtypre

jhoring

 

Get WooCommerce

Find out more about the PayFast plugin for WooCommerce here.

 

Magento

Magento

Magento is one of the most robust eCommerce platforms in the world with more than 240,000 merchants, is it estimated that around 1 in every 4 online businesses are using Magento.

What they offer

Magento offers a highly customisable, flexible and scalable eCommerce solution that is ideally suited for fast-growing or large businesses. Magento comes in two flavours; an open source Community edition and a paid Enterprise edition.

Magento Community edition is the perfect solution for developers or tech-savvy merchants that want to explore the flexibility of the platform. You can modify (and even contribute to) the core code and engage with the Magento community for support and guidance.

The Enterprise edition has the features and the flexibility needed to create an eCommerce solution tailored to suit unique needs. Some of the features include SEO, optimisation of category page merchandise, customer segmentation, targeted promotions, custom coupon creation, navigation filters and more.

Features

  • Incredibly scalable and customisable
  • Feature & functionality rich
  • Ideal for Enterprise usage
  • Multilingual and multi-currency support
  • Great support for the Community Edition

Examples

 

harpersnike

Get Magento

Find out more about the PayFast plugin for Magento here.

 

 

PrestaShop

PrestaShop

PrestaShop is a hugely popular eCommerce platform powering over 250,000 online stores worldwide. PrestaShop is simple, efficient and intuitive. It offers both a flexible open-source eCommerce solution and a user-friendly cloud-hybrid eCommerce solution. Completely for free, which removes the financial and technical barriers to starting an online business.

What they offer

An open-source eCommerce solution with plenty of features. It’s easy to setup. Prestashop is available for download in two options: fully-hosted Prestashop cloud where you can start selling online in minutes. Or self-hosted Prestashop where you can get full technical control of your online store. Both are entirely free and ready to support your eCommerce activities. Online stores designed using Prestashop can be managed easily even of you don’t have much technical knowledge.

Features

  • Easy to install and customise
  • Intuitive user interface
  • 2000+ professional eCommerce website templates
  • Easier to configure than some of the other prominent platforms
  • Plenty out of the box features
  • PrestaShop Marketplace
  • It’s Free
  • Large community

Examples

eatingtoolsbtwin 

Get PrestaShop

Find out more about the PayFast plugin for PrestaShop here.

 

 

Ecwid

Ecwid

Ecwid is a slightly different solution to those offered above. It is a tool that lets you construct a store that ‘plugs into’ your existing site. Like a Wix website or Facebook. It’s not a solution for building a complete website. Ecwid is geared more towards businesses who already have a website and simply want to add an online store to it. Ecwid is used by more than 850,000 online merchants in 175 countries and is the number one eCommerce app for Facebook.

What they offer

Ecwid, short for “eCommerce widget”, is a web hosted shopping cart that seamlessly integrates with your existing website. It can also be added to your page on Facebook. Insert a few lines of code to any page of your website or profile page and your online store is displayed wherever you’ve inserted this code. Customers will enjoy the convenience of checking out securely right from your site, without being redirected elsewhere.

Like other online store building tools, Ecwid allows you to set up ‘catalogues’ of products, and add photos, pricing, weight etc. for each. You can define shipping rates, accept credit card payments and more. If you have a website built on Wix (which does not integrate with PayFast), then you can add Ecwid as a shopping cart and that will allow you to accept payments through PayFast.

Features

  • Plugs-in seamlessly to your existing site
  • Sell in multiple places simultaneously
  • Social commerce
  • Responsive design
  • There is a Free plan

Examples

 

dh6smooth-sailing 

Get Ecwid

 Find out more about the PayFast plugin for Ecwid here.

Conclusion

These shopping carts are some of the best and most popular around. They all have their own features, but should be able to cater for any needs or scenarios.

They have all integrated with PayFast, so you don’t have to worry about accepting payment in Rands.

The only question now is which platform is best for you?